Gaudium et Spes and the Opening to the World
This chapter discusses the opening to the world in the Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes, the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The approach of Gaudium et Spes differs from the earlier method of Catholic social teaching, which employed primarily a natural law approach. Gaudium et Spes introduces a more biblical, faith-centered, Christological approach to life in the world. In discussing the document itself, some of the problems in the document are also mentioned, especially its overly optimistic approach and its somewhat one-sided anthropological outlook. The discussion also points out the many subsequent developments building on Gaudium et Spes that occurred later, including the greater emphasis on the particular as illustrated in liberation and feminist theologies, the preferential option for the poor, and the importance of historical consciousness and the resultant pluralism in Catholic approaches to life in the world. The chapter develops by considering three significant methodological issues—a more theological approach to life in the world, a more personalist approach, and a more inductive approach.